Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Happy New Year - Astronomy Forecast for 2015

In one of my other lives, I'm an astronomer, so I'm looking forward to a year full of fun astronomy stuff. Granted, 2014 was also interesting, from eclipses and occultations to landing a little Philae on a comet.

I can't think of a single human who doesn't get a kick out of looking up into the night sky, especially when they know what's up there. You wanna hook a human on astronomy forever? Show 'em Saturn through a telescope. That'll set 'em up for life.

Universe Today has compiled the Top 101 Astronomical Events for 2015. Guaranteed there will be something in there to catch your interest.

Because a year is an astronomical measurement, I thought I'd share this list with you.

Highlights: 
  • Comets Lovejoy and PanSTARRS may become visible to the naked eye.
  • Lots of planetary conjunctions (ie clusters of "Evening Stars" as the planets pair up for a few nights).
  • A total lunar eclipse.
  • New Horizons visits Pluto. Whether or not you accept it's Dwarf Planet status, you have to admit this is gonna be totally cool.
  • Philae may wake up. I hope so.
 So turn your eyes heavenwards for 2015. There's lots of exciting stuff happening up there.

___________________________
Her Grace can't remember if she wanted to be an author before she wanted to be an astronomer, or vice-versa. It was so, so long ago.



Tuesday, 30 December 2014

That interstitial time...

I've always found the week between Christmas and New Year to be an otherworldly time. There is such a lead-up to Christmas, and New Year is the beginning of another phase of life.

But that time in between? It doesn't seem to belong anywhere.

My Daye Jobbe shuts down for that week, none of the kids are in school, and His Grace is also on holidays. There is no schedule, no regular pattern, and the only marking of time is sunrise and sunset.

You'd think this would be an ideal time to write, to take all these given free hours to finish (or make significant progress on) a novel.

Yet I find myself unable to write. I feel disjointed. I can't settle in.

Some of my friends are taking this time to ponder on the upcoming year. They are exploring plans and direction and resolutions. I can't do that, because I've already done that. I've already established my yearly plan for 2015, and very little is left to be done. The five year plan is waiting until the Holiday Season is over, and the twenty year and fifty year plans are ticking along nicely.  The thousand year plan is accomplished on a day-to-day basis.



it is quiet here.



I should take this time to clean. I need to sort through all the junk that has landed on my desk and put it away, whether that be on a shelf or the round filing cabinet. I should finish that monstrous quilt taking up most of my office. And really, those two things are the only two pressing things on my list.

My usual schedule of life is on hiatus until after the New Year.

Have you ever been stuck in time?

_________________________
Her Grace has even re-discovered that most disconcerting of creatures: boredom with lack of motivation.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all Happy Holidays
and Merry Christmas.

I thought I'd share Rosetta's Christmas Card, as I think it's cute.

Also sharing this Carol of the Bells as it's lovely.

Now, go spend the holidays with the people you love, and remember what's important to you this Holiday season.

Love,

Her Grace.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Happy Book Birthday, For Richer For Poorer!



For Richer, For Poorer is out today!

Help celebrate by getting it from The Wild Rose Press.  Also available on Amazon.

The Deveraux line is famous... for a family curse. The rich must marry the poor or lose their prosperity. Peter Baring is the last of the Deveraux and sinking slowly into poverty. But will marriage to his icy business partner save him?

Beatrice Nottham dreams of leaving Earth for a fresh start. But only married couples are allowed to move off-world. Marrying a man she’s unsure she loves will solve that problem...but at what cost?

When Beatrice visits England to research her branch of the Deveraux family tree, she meets Peter and sparks fly. Both question everything they ever believed would fulfill their dreams. If they dare to be together, will the Curse follow them beyond the stars? The answer to breaking its power could lie in the heart of a crumbling tapestry...if they have the courage to try.

_____________________
Her Grace quite enjoys this book. However, it is rather gauche to give her own book a review. If you read this book (and you know you want to) please consider giving this book an honest review on Amazon or GoodReads or other place of your choice. Thank you.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Wherein I declare my Mustachianism

Three more days until For Richer, For Poorer comes out. Go buy my books!


I'm a big fan of Mr Money Mustache. If your wallet pinches uncomfortably, if you find yourself weighed down by consumerism, if you loathe working a Day Job, you really need to check out his hardcore badass financial advice.

He recently had a case study about Joe Average wanting a better life. A few people commented about how MMM's philosophy doesn't benefit the poor; they are not his target audience.

I disagree. Anyone who wishes to improve their financial situation would benefit from reading MMM, even if they can't apply everything he recommends at the present time.

A simple raising of one's financial awareness is what he advocates.

Normally I don't comment on his awesome posts, but I had to say this:
I’m a faithful reader who didn’t know a lot of what MMM preaches before I started reading his blog. My cousin pointed him out, and I went hard-core, and now I’m happily Mustachian.

It all comes down to awareness and education.

When I was a child, my father got injured and was out of work for a while. We lived in poverty. Boy, did it sting!

In university, I spent a few years as an impoverished student because I was not financially savvy AT ALL. (Woe, my ignorance.)

Post-uni, I got a job with a decent wage, but was frivilous in my spending.

Twenty years later, I am now educated, thanks to MMM, and I’m much better off. I’m looking at early-ish retirement BECAUSE I GOT EDUCATED.

Sure, I practiced a brand of frugality in my poverty years, but that was due to necessity and lack of choice. The moment I wasn’t so poor, I went back to foolish ways.

I believe that MMM can benefit those in poverty by educating them on ways of good, better, best.
Last year I read an articles (not related to finances, but to making choices) called “Good, Better, Best”. (Go google it, if you like. It has a religious slant on it, but the advice is sound for all walks of life.)

We all make choices. Lots of people make poor choices, which is why they struggle to make ends meet on a US$100K+ salary. Some choices we make are good. What we need is the wisdom to stand back from our choices and determine if our choices are good, better, or the best we could make.
That’s what MMM’s advocating here. I’m always pointing the impoverished to his blog.

Sometimes we can’t help finding ourselves poor (like when my dad got injured and couldn’t work). But if we have the best mindset, we do not have to remain in poverty for long.

It is the difference between me blowing $40K one year with nothing to show, and me now able to live plus invest with $30K.

So, yeah. I share this with you now, because greater awareness gives you a greater chance at happiness.  New Year is coming up. Don't you have some resolutions to make?

____________________
Her Grace's resolutions are simply to keep doing what she's been doing, as her view is long-term.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Some favourite jokes

(Yeah, For Richer, For Poorer is out in five days. Go buy it.)

I thought I'd share some of my favourite jokes. Caution: some of them may not be entirely suitable for children. Even the fart joke, but only because they simply won't get it.

My favourite fart joke:

It was Great-Grandma's 100th birthday, so all her descendants threw her a big party. They wheeled Great-Grandma into the room so everyone could wish her well and have a great time.

One of her grandsons noticed she was leaning over a bit in her wheelchair. "Here, Grandma. Let me help you." So he propped her up with a pillow.

A few minutes later a granddaughter noticed she was leaning the other way. "Let me help you," she said as she propped her up with another pillow.

Several minutes later a great-grandchild comes up to her and says, "So, how are you enjoying the party, Grandma?"

"It's terrible!" she replied. "Nobody will let me break wind."

My favourite gay joke:

A son comes home from university for the holidays with a big announcement. He finds his mother in the kitchen, working on Christmas dinner. "I have something to tell you." He hesitates. "I'm gay."

His mother, stirring a big pot of potatoes, doesn't say anything. 

"Um, Mom, did you hear me?"

She draw a deep breath. "I heard you, son." But says nothing more.

"So...?"

But his mom keeps stirring those potatoes. Eventually, she says, "So this means you like men?"

"Yeah."

"So, you sleep with them, right?"

The son squirms. "Uh, yeah."

She keeps stirring those potatoes. "So you suck on their dicks then?"

"MOM!"

"Just answer the question."

The son hangs his head. "Yes," he mutters.

His mother takes her stirring spoon out of her pot and whacks him upside the head. "I know what that tastes like. Don't you ever complain about my cooking again!"

My favourite postman joke:

It was Barry the Postman's last day on the job before he retired. As he did his final rounds, grateful folk gave him cards and gifts to celebrate his retirement.

At one home the lovely young housewife invited him inside, took him upstairs and gave him the best sex of his life. Then she brought him downstairs and fed him the most amazing breakfast--waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. 

As Barry the Postman was finishing up, he noticed a dollar under the coffee cup. "What's this for?"

"Well," replied the housewife, "when I told my husband you were retiring and I wanted to do something nice for you, he said, 'Screw him. Give him a buck.' Breakfast was my idea."

My favourite lightbulb joke:

How many humans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 
Two, but they have to be really, really small.

My favourite chicken-crossing-road series:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
To get to the other side.

Why did the whale cross the road? 
To get to the other tide.

Why did the frog cross the road?
He was stapled to the chicken.


____________________________
Her Grace loves a good joke.  What are some of your favourites?

Monday, 15 December 2014

One more week...

Ohmigosh!

Only one more week until the release of:
 
So exciting!
 
Where to get it:
 
The Wild Rose Press (my excellent publisher!)
Amazon (pre-order available)
Kobo Books (currently rated #142 in Historical Fantasy!)
 
In honour of my current ranking in Kobo Books, here's a video of The Ballad of Irving (The 142nd Fastest Gun in the West):
 
____________________
Her Grace is more excited about this book release than Christmas. The best gift for her is if you bought a copy to give to someone else.
 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Curlygirls: Treat Your Hair Right

A few days ago some friends of mine were bemoaning their poor brittle frizzy hair. They were born curly girls, but had never learned how to care properly for their beautiful curly hair.  One was debating whether she should cut her hair short, so sick was she of the brittle frizz. "NO!" her children cried, followed by a handful of suggestions to straighten it (Brazilian straightening came up, as did keratin straightening.)

Hush your mouth!

Despite what your fifteen-dollar junior hairdresser and your hair-ignorant high school BFF told you, straight hair is NOT "so cute" if you weren't born with it.

Naturally straight hair is shiny, silky and soft. First Ladyship has naturally straight hair that shines like gold.

Curly hair that's straightened is brittle, dull, dry and ugly. Square peg, round hole. Just, no.

Go read this book: Curly Girl: The Handbook. Knowledge is power. This knowledge will free you from frizz forever. It's at my local library and probably at yours.

But as you're reading this entry Right Now, here's some thing you Need To Know.

1. Shampoo is your enemy.  The purpose of shampoo is to clean dirty oil from your hair. Curly girls are not greasy girls (unlike our unfortunate straight-haired counterparts).  Sodium Laurel Sulfate and Sodium Laureth Sulfate will strip your lovely curly hair of its vital oils, leaving your hair dry and nasty. This is why we frizz and develop split ends.  Ditch the shampoo. You don't need it.

2. You can have clean hair every day, if you use the right product.  No, I'm not going to advertise some SLS-free shampoo product, though they are available, even in my local supermarket. Do not be deceived in thinking you must use "shampoo" to keep your hair clean.  Remember how your grandmother used cold cream to remove makeup from her face? A cheap conditioner will do the same thing for your hair. Use it in place of shampoo. It will attract and remove day-to-day dirt from your hair without compromising your natural oils. Then use your expensive conditioner, if you really need it (and you won't, eventually), to condition your hair.

3. Brushing your dry hair every day is a no-no.  You'll hear from "experts" telling you never to brush/comb your hair while wet because it'll stretch and break. This is a bit deceptive, as brushing one's hair, wet or dry, will cause it to stretch. Breaking comes when you pull too hard.  Curly hair does not slide easily through a brush/comb when dry, thus making it more prone to breaking. However. combing your curly hair while wet and lubricated with conditioner will reduce the chances of your hair stretching and breaking.

I wish more hairdressers knew more about curly hair and its proper care. Too many of them are trained for straight hair. That's a shame, for a crown of beautiful curls is a lovely thing indeed.

___________________________
Her Grace has been shampoo-free for nearly ten years thanks to Curly Girl and, as you can see, her curls are beautiful. Also, she hates the term "so cute". 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Best Method to Untarnish Silver

Some of my fabulous silver (and some gold).
Like me, I'll bet you've got some beautifully romantic pieces of Sterling silver jewelry. Or maybe you inherited a lovely set of silverware from your grandmother. Or maybe you're on a Quest, and when you finally find the Silver Sword of MacGuffin, you discover it terribly tarnished.

Alas, silver tends to tarnish with age.

Here is one of The Best Methods for untarnishing your silver. (I'll explain why later).
  1. Fill a saucepan with 1.5 litres1 (half a gallon) of water. Add 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup salt (NaCl). Bring to a boil.
  2. Line a second saucepan or a large glass bowl with a sheet of aluminium foil. 
  3. Place your tarnished Sterling silver jewelry (or magical sword) on the foil. It must have contact with the foil, the more, the better.
  4. Pour the boiling baking soda water over your jewelry and let it sit for a few minutes. The tarnish will disappear. If a piece of jewelry is severely tarnished, you may need to reheat the water or let the solution sit longer. 
  5. Once silver is untarnished, remove from pan (with tongs or a spoon, as it may be very hot).
This is how I keep my silver bright and shiny, especially as I have a bad habit of taking magical silver swords into brimstone-ridden hellmouths or wearing my silver rings into sulfer-ridden swimming pools.

Here's How It Works

Tarnish is silver sulfide (Ag2S). Tarnish happens when sulfer from the atmosphere, from a swimming pool, from food, etc reacts with the silver of your jewelry (or your silver teaspoons).

Many other methods of silver polishing removes that layer of silver sulfide. This is less than ideal. Yes, it's removing that tarnish, but it also removes a layer of silver as well. We don't want that.

My method above only removes the sulfer. It leaves the silver behind.

Essentially, what's happening is an electrochemical reaction. What we are doing is pulling the sulfer from the silver sulfide and making aluminium sulfide (Al2S3). Sulfer wants to be aluminium sulfide more than it wants to be silver sulfide. Therefore, when presented in an ideal environment (the hot water & soda/salt), it moves to the aluminium foil.

Want to know more about the science behind this? Learn how oxidation and reduction make it work.

______________________________
Has Her Grace mentioned just how much she loves science?


1If you are untarnishing magical enchanted silver swords, you may wish to increase this recipe at least four-fold to ensure complete coverage of the sword by salt/soda solution. Also increase the amount of aluminium foil to maximise surface contact. And you'll need a larger pan. Maybe a bathtub.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Genealogy and For Richer, For Poorer

In For Richer, For Poorer, Our Heroine Beatrice Nottham does genealogy. She is rather fond of her research. She's got a few unanswered questions she wants to solve before she moves off-world.

Genealogy. or Family History is one of the biggest hobbies in the world. It's thrilling to learn where you came from, and to discover fascinating family stories. My family enjoys genealogy and we've done lots of research.

One of the best sources of info is from living family members. They'll have the stories, if not always the stats. It's best someone write these down, as family members don't live forever and they will take their stories with them.

The second best source is Original Research--Birth, Marriage and Death certificates, church records, state records, official government census, etc.  Beatrice flies to England to get her hands on some of this research, and finds some of it in a Family Bible. Families often kept track of their own records in Family Bibles, which had a section in the back for recording such info.

19th and 20th Century Europe did a pretty good job of keeping records of people. (For example, in the UK, their Census records start about 1831.) Because of this, most people can trace back at least four generations, or even six or eight.

However, the further back you go, the trickier things get. The older the records, the more chances are of those records getting lost. Church and courthouse fires are notorious for having destroyed precious genealogy records. Also, the lower-class weren't as meticulous as the nobility when it came to record-keeping.

Beatrice was able to trace her genealogy back over a thousand years1 because she was able to tap in early on to the nobility. The nobility kept records because they thought they mattered. Who married whom was very important. Who was your father? Your grandfather? They kept good track of this.

Do you know if you are descended from nobility? Worth a look.

The Deveraux line was noble. Peter Baring was the Earl of Revelstoke-on-Membland and a direct Deveraux descendant. He was the keeper of much of the records of family history, much to Beatrice's benefit.

____________________________
Her Grace encourages y'all to give genealogy a go. FamilySearch.org is a free place to start. Ancestry.com costs, but is an excellent resource you might be able to access  free through your local public library.

1Yes, this is possible; my family has done this. Noble blood flows through my veins; I am the daughter of kings.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, fellow Americans. I'll be officially celebrating on Saturday due to geographical location.

Gratitude is a good thing to remember.





___________________________
Her Grace is grateful for all with which she's been blessed.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Create an Artistic Life - Part 3 - Behave like a Pro

Professional behaviour will help further your career. Consider developing these habits.

Treat other people well. This is one of the biggest marks of professionalism. Even if you disagree with the other person, treat them well, treat them respectfully. This will take you far--even if not in the other person's eyes, it will in someone else's eyes. This aspect of your reputation may tip a balance in your favour.

Be serious about your craft. Your dedication will show in your work. Constantly work towards improvement.

Be organised. Don't believe the adage about "controlled chaos". There is no such thing. Chaos will suck your creativity. Trust me. There is no art to chaos.

Actively seek out opportunity. Because it ain't gonna come find you.

Don't be a dick. This may seem obvious, but sometimes people act like dicks without realising their dickishness. Develop the awareness of how you present. If you're consciously acting like a dick, think twice. Do you really want to be known as a dick?

Be proactive. Especially in kindness. Be proactive in all positive aspects of your life.

______________________
Her Grace says "you", but what she really means is "me".

How to Listen Properly

How to Listen Properly

  1. Use your ears, and nothing else. Simply listen. Take in everything being said. See what is there, hear how it affects people, realise these are fellow human beings.
  2.  Do not judge. Everyone’s experiences are unique and their own. They will have come to that experience on a different pathway from you. You don’t know the whole story. Do not assume so. The more you listen, the more you will learn, and the more you will understand.
  3. Do not attempt to solve the problem. This includes saying something in an attempt to change someone’s mind. Above all, do not attempt to “correct” them.  That stupid AllLivesMatter hashtag was NOT proper listening. The only time to offer a solution is if you’re invited to help. Sometimes people express themselves not because they want someone else to solve the problem but simply because they want to be heard and understood.
  4. Do your best to understand where the other person is coming from. You don’t have to agree with their stand or support their ideals. But you do need to understand why and how they feel the way they do. Humanity’s destiny is not homogeneity, but excellence through diversity.
  5. Practice respect. There is a time for respectful, constructive dialogue, but that time is not necessarily Right Now. Simply listening with the aim of understanding is one of the most respectful things you can do. It’s the best way to start. Sometimes it’s the best way to end.

  
The Value of Listening

Yesterday I popped on Twitter to announce some personal promotional news. So, like everyone else on Twitter, I burst into the room with a handful of noise, then settled down to read.

One of the first things I saw was some advice from Mary Robinette Kowal advising (generally) that now might not be the best time for promotion. Why? Because now is not the time to be saying stuff, but to be listening. 

Something serious was going down, so I read on.


In August Michael Brown was shot dead by a police officer. This week the grand jury did not indict the officer responsible for the shooting. 

There was a whole lotta people justifiably upset over his death and the court’s refusal to indict. They are angry. They are frustrated. They are openly voicing that disappointment.

Also, as you get on the Internet, there are too many fools  (either deliberate or accidental) who just had to say something stupid or incendiary or ignorant.

That is the last thing you should be doing at a moment like this.  So after I spent a moment feeling embarrassed over posting my rather insignificant announcement, I thumbed over to the #Ferguson thread and simply listened.

When I was young, I had much to say, but nobody ever listened to me. I remember my frequent frustration over not being listened to. So yeah. I completely understand where these people come from.  The best thing you can do is to listen, truly listen.

____________________________
Her Grace spent quite some time listening to #Ferguson. She hopes others are listening enough to enact positive change. If you are interested in my news, go right ahead and check it out. Otherwise, carry on.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

For Richer, For Poorer available for pre-order on Amazon

It's driving you nuts. You want a copy now, but you'll have to wait.

For Richer, For Poorer is available for pre-order on Amazon.  Pre-order now, get it before Christmas when it comes out 22 December. Otherwise, you can wait and get it from The Wild Rose Press. But why wait? ORDER NOW!!

The Deveraux line is famous...for a family curse. The rich must marry the poor or lose their prosperity. Peter Baring is the last of the Deveraux and sinking slowly into poverty. But will marriage to his icy business partner save him?

Beatrice Nottham dreams of leaving Earth for a fresh start. But only married couples are allowed to move off-world. Marrying a man she’s unsure she loves will solve that problem...but at what cost?

When Beatrice visits England to research her branch of the Deveraux family tree, she meets Peter and sparks fly. Both question everything they ever believed would fulfill their dreams. If they dare to be together, will the Curse follow them beyond the stars? The answer to breaking its power could lie in the heart of a crumbling tapestry...if they have the courage to try.

Until then, I'll post regular blogposts regarding fun aspects of this book and the world it lives in.

______________________
Her Grace is one up on y'all, because she's already read the book.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Create an Artistic Life - Part 2 - Want to be a pro?

When I was young, I received the following bits of advice:

"Hang out with those you want to be like the most." and it's corollary, "Whoever you hang out with, that's who you'll become."

I also received, "Act as if you are already where you want to be."

When I was young, I was also stupid and didn't fully understand these pearls of wisdom for what they truly were. Fortunately, I have gained some wisdom as I age. (Man, why didn't anyone tell me [convincingly] how stupid I was how not to be stupid when I was younger?)1

So how does this relate to being a professional artist?

It's all about the mindset.

Professional isn't about what you do or where you are, it's all about how you act regarding your craft.

I only truly figured out professionalism about five years ago when I realised I needed to take my craft seriously. Until then I had dreams of being a pro author, but I had the habits and attitude of a hobbyist.
Serious cat is serious.
So here I was, watching my fellow OWW peeps' careers practically skyrocketing while I was lucky to get a handful of short story sales here and there. I sat around with my thumb in my mouth wondering what was going on.

What was going on was they were focused, dedicated and serious about their craft. It really meant something to them.

1. It's not a game. It's real. You gotta ask yourself: do you really want to be an artist, or are you just playing? If you're just playing, then don't be surprised at the tepid little results.

2. Your Art is a priority. You've got stuff you need. Sleep. Food. Supportive human relationships. You do what you gotta do to ensure you have the needful stuff. Your Art should also be a priority, if you want it bad enough. Don't try to fit Art in around the other stuff you have to do. Do your Art first, and fit in other stuff around it.

3. What would a professional artist do? Sit down, make a list, put some thought into this, ask a pro. Know what they actually do, because you need to be doing it as well.

4. Have a plan. Pros always have a plan. Spontaneity, good vibes, sheer dumb luck and "I'll get around to it" are not good plans. "Being published in five years time" is also not a good plan.  "Finish a novel, crit a novel, pitch an agent, write another novel" -- that's a plan.

_____________________
Her Grace regrets the time she wasted not being serious about the craft.

1There is a difference between saying "Hey, you're stupid!" and "Here's how not to be stupid." At least I had enough sense in my youth to recognise the difference and listen to the latter. It's a shame their advice was few and far between.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Create an Artistic Life - Part 1 - Financial Independence

After Wednesday's post, I realised I wasn't finished saying everything I needed to say. I've gotta lot to say, in hopes that my words will make someone else's life better.

Over the past couple of years I've been putting in some serious thought regarding my writing career.

I want to be a full-time career author.

I work the day job (same place for nearly fifteen years), but dream of the Career. (Doesn't every Artist?)  Wouldn't it be nice not to have to work a day job and to be able to focus solely on my writing?



I owe some thanks to a cousin who's smarter than me, who pointed me in a direction I wish I had known about twenty years ago. If I knew then what I know now, I very likely would have been financially independent today, free from a day job, and indulging full-time in my writing career.

Want to free yourself from a full-time job so you can pursue your art more? Want to give up the day job entirely? Become financially independent.

Financial independence is the key. The reason we get jobs that have nothing to do with our chosen careers is because--let's face it, honey--we gotta eat. Unless you enjoy being a GOSH1, living in your parents' basement and under their rules, a job is a necessary Adult thing. You've gotta admit, money's nice. Working for the money, maybe not so much. But if you had your money working for you, that'd be so much sweeter.

So, I would like you to meet MR MONEY MUSTACHE. He's a financially independent badass who freed himself early from the Rat Race so he could pursue what he truly loved.

Admit it; that's your dream as well.

If you want to be free to pursue your art, go read his blog from the very beginning and put his principles to work. You don't have to completely adhere to every single thing he does, but he will put your feet on the path of financial independence.

Stop being financially foolish!

I wish Personal Finance & Investing 101 was a primary requisite for anyone pursuing any Arts degree. We'd have a far fewer financially frustrated artists/musicians/writers. Far too many of us artistic types aren't wise when it comes to money, saving and investing when we need to be, especially if we want the independence to be able to pursue our art without starving.

For the Aspiring Artist who's at the beginning of their life, I recommend this simple plan:

  1. Get a job. At this point, it doesn't matter too much what it is, because you're not going to be there forever (see this illo to keep you motivated).
  2. Keep your spending needs to a minimum and invest every spare cent you can.
  3. When your investments are returning enough income to meet your spending needs, quit the day job forever and indulge in your art.
  4. Do not dabble. you are not a dilettante. Treat your artistic career professionally. Otherwise, you might as well stay in the Rat Race and keep your art as an occasional hobby.

I might be entering the game twenty years later than I should be, but at least I'm getting into the game.

________________________
Her Grace has a plan. She shares this with you so you can also have a plan.

1Grown Offspring Still Home.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

How difficult it is NOT to be an artist...

It's finals week for me at school. It's also the penultimate week for NaNoWriMo. It's also the week before Thanksgiving, and five weeks before Christmas.

I cannot concentrate on any of that.

Saw this cartoon today, and it reminded me of a recent lawsuit involving an acquaintance of mine. I can talk about the lawsuit now, because it's over, though I'll keep various details vague.
www.savagechickens.com

A certain person with a BA in something arty applied for a non-arty job with a particular company. During the interview the departmental interviewer (not someone from HR) expressed subversive prejudice against this person. The certain person left the interview with a bad taste in their mouth.

They didn't get the job.

The certain person called up the company for a bit of feedback over why they didn't get the job. As HR had no idea, they put CP through to the departmental interviewer. In short, DP told CP that they didn't get the job because they had an arts degree, and people with Arts degrees were unreliable.



Well, CP was in the habit of recording all their phone calls for an unrelated reason. They took this conversation to a pretty good lawyer, who agreed they had a case.

So, off they go to court.

During the proceedings DP's side of the case presented evidence that showed that employees of this particular company with degrees in the Arts tended to be dissatisfied with their work and leave their jobs sooner, whereas those with Engineering degrees or related fields tended to stay long and be happier.

CP's excellent attorney countered this with evidence that people with Arts degrees, when hired in related fields not only stayed longer in those fields and expressed greater job satisfaction, but tended to remain in those jobs well past the retirement age.

In the end, CP won their case because of the prejudice expressed by DP. (I wonder what happened to DP and the company. If they found dissatifaction with Art majors, I wonder if they would have changed their job criteria?)

The case is over so now I can talk about it.

It did get me thinking: It's not that Arts majors are unreliable as a whole, but that their passion lies in certain areas other than Engineering.

If someone loves Engineering and studies Engineering and gets a job in Engineering, naturally, they're following their passion and they'll probably love their job. But stick that engineer in a Front-of-House job in the local Repertory Theatre, and they'd probably hate it.

This is what happens to all the lovely Arts/Theatre/Music majors. There simply aren't enough Arty-type jobs to go around, so we're stuck having to take the tedious little soul-sucking positions such as Data Entry, Accounts Receivable, Call Centre, Receptionist, etc.




There is no art here. It's hard to find joy in such a job. Can you blame us for not staying on a career path we are not suited for? I had several of those early on in my working life.

At least the technologies of the 21st Century succors the Artiste. Thanks to places such as Etsy, iTunes and Smashwords, there are creative outlets that can bring in some money, maybe enough to supplement or even replace the dreaded Daye Jobbe.

If only we didn't have to eat while we built up sufficient income from our Art.

_____________________
Her Grace is involved in the glacially slow Publishing industry. She works hard, but it may be years or even decades before she sees the financial fruits of today's labour.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Randomosity for Friday Fun

In school I studied a lot about orbital resonance, also other things that make sound (not noise) in space. As I'm still a bit groggy from staying up to see Philae's successful landing, I now offer you Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko singing "Flight of the Bumblebee".

As I wended my way along the local roads the other day, I saw this sign:
True dat.  However, one must weigh up the horrors of being eaten by the undead, or being eaten alive by a Crossfit Assassin Trainer.

Meanwhile, what are you reading this weekend? Only 40 more days until For Richer, For Poorer comes out.

__________________
Her Grace is suddenly motivated to go for a jog.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Randomosity for Little Spacecraft

Right now I'm seated in front of my computer eagerly awaiting Rosetta's release of Philae to Comet Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. I've got the live feed running from the European Space Agency's command center, and they've just turned on some lovely jazz music. In about two hours, Philae will detach from Rosetta and begin its seven-hour ballistic trajectory to Comet Chury-Whatsit. I've so got my Astro-geek on for the next 24 hours.

In unrelated science: Today's word is nucleosynthesis. I ain't linking; you go look it up with your black-belt Google-Fu skills.

In case science ain't your bag, consider this: there are worse things to be called other than "Grammar Nazi," unless you're Finnish.

And now, for something fun "Five Things Mario Can't Do that You Can":


___________________
Now that she thinks about it, Her Grace is wondering if the reason they turned on the groovy music is to hide what they're saying in the command centre. At least nobody's picked his nose... yet.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

NaNoWayMo

If you're like me in the past, you're probably totally into NaNoWriMo right now.

If you're like me today, you've barely given it a thought.

I just can't get into NaNoWriMo this year. Sometimes an author gets to a point when they do not need to be creating anything new, but improving the stuff that's already existing. I've got a trilogy that needs editing far more than my next novel needs writing.

NaNovels do not sell. Edited novels (regardless of how they begin) sell. (I know which one an agent or editor would prefer.)

That's simply the way things are.

NaNoWriMo has been a most helpful practice in the past, but I don't think it's as useful a tool this year. Also, I have a few other things that demand my time, such as school and Their Ladyships' school, and the Relief Society.

I will continue writing, same as always. Whether or not I make the goal, I have no idea.

_____________________
Her Grace still doesn't watch much television.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Happy November

November the 0 (aka 31 October) was Editor Appreciation Day, so I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate Claudia Fallon, my editor at at The Wild Rose Press. She edited For Richer, For Poorer (out 22 Dec 2014).

Of course, it's NaNoWriMo. I, along with a whole lotta other authors, are cranking out 50K words for the month. That's 1665 words a day--a doddle! Unless of course you've never done that sort of thing before. Then it'll spin your head out. Good luck with your novelling. Keep up with me on NaNoWriMo.org.

In other  news, Her Endearing Young Charms, has been selected as an OWW's Editor's Choice for the month.  Read what editor CC Finlay had to say about this in the OWW-SFF Newsletter.

I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving later on. Australians don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Don't even have a similar holiday just for gratitude. Alas. But as I was raised in the American Tradition, I love Thanksgiving. So I will be gathering my extended Australian family and showing them this completely humble tradition. As none of us get Thursday off, we will celebrate on Saturday.

And now for some randomosity:

Here is a funny video of penguins falling over.

_____________________
Her Grace has finished her term paper on Orbital Resonance and is now looking forward to writing something completely different.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Regency Romance and the Bechdel Test

These Austenacious ladies
passing the Bechdel Test
Do you know how difficult it is for a Regency Romance to pass the Bechdel Test? (Well, at least mine are.)

Regency Romances are all about pursuit of a spouse, usually during the London Season, and all the gossip and on-dits and, of course, the fabulous clothes. Naturally, everyone is talking about everyone else. It is rather difficult for two Regency women to sit down and have a conversation without it turning, sooner or later, to one of the other characters, usually Our Hero.

My characters do talk about other things in between. There's been discussion of mismatched horses, whether or not one should put one's hair up in rags at 3am or collapse to bed in exhaustion and suffer the curling tongs tomorrow, to how awful the negus is and whether something is sufficiently enchanted... to attract a bloke. (Aw man, so close!)

I guess it all comes down to how strict one interprets the conditions of the Bechdel test.

Strict interpretation: discuss ANYTHING except one of the male characters. He can't slip in at all.

Loose interpretation: discuss ANYTHING which has nothing to do with a male character, but the conversation either drifted in to the subject from discussing Our Hero, or segued into a discussion about him. The important part is that we saw our two women discussing something that wasn't Our Hero.

Bechdel failure: our two women never discuss ANYTHING except Our Hero (or another male character).

So where do you draw the line? Do you favour a loose interpretation? After all, women discuss the things in their lives, but also the people in their lives, which includes the men they interact with. Or do you prefer a strict interpretation, because women's lives do not revolve around the lives of the men they know?

I'd like to think my Regencies pass the Bechdel Test, even if only barely, because my women characters do show interest in things other than the male characters. I don't know if I'm the best one to judge.

Do me a favour; next time I release a full-length Regency Romance, someone let me know if it passes the Bechdel Test.

__________________
Her Grace favours a looser interpretation, but then, it shouldn't be difficult to pass the Bechdel if the characters are well-rounded and the plot well-constructed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Back to School

Did I tell you? I've gone back to school, specifically, I'm pursuing a MS. Thought I'd let you know, as this does reduce the amount of time I have to blog. So, what this means for me is this:

Good Things about Going Back to School

  1. Yay, education! I've always been a proponent of education. (Remember my dreams of a scholarship fund? This is part of why.)
  2. My major is such a cooool subject. I've always been fascinated by it since I was a wee tot. Now I get to immerse in it without guilt.
  3. After I finish my degree, I will be Her Grace, Heidi Kneale BAMS! (Amusa)
  4. The nice thing about post-grad work is that you tend to work on cutting-edge projects. As in, we didn't know this info existed three months ago. In fact, everything is turning over so new, my textbook edition was printed this year, and may already be out of date.

Bad Things about Going Back to School

  1. Tuition. Sorry, but Australia doesn't do free education anymore. Alas. However, I am allowed to defer tuition until I make over a certain amount. Meanwhile, I'll have to source some scholarships, crowdfunding or other alternative means for sourcing funds.
  2. Time suck. Yeah. This semester I'm only in one unit, and you won't believe the time it sucks out of my Bucket o' Time. I spend hours on a single assignment.
  3. All the cool stuff I want to talk about is either not of any interest to everyone else around me in RL or so far above their heads they can't keep up. Does add to an air of isolation.
  4. Cuts into my writing time. (Okay, it also cuts into my housecleaning time and my workout time and my sit-around-and-do-nothing time, but I'm not too worried about that.)  At least I'm only committed to a semester's work, and not year-round (like the day job, that mixed blessing of timesuck and moneygiver).
_________________________
Her Grace had an opportunity to go back to school for a subject she loved and under the conditions that suited her best. So she took it.

Friday, 17 October 2014

NaNoWriWhat?

NaNoWriMo's coming up in a few weeks and I'm debating whether I should participate this year.

50K in a month? No problem for this Journeyman. Cranking out draft is easy. Coming up with a story? A doddle. I've got three book ideas lurking in the back of my head.

The question is, is now the best time to start a new novel project?

My writerly life is such that I've already got a few projects on the go, stuff I'm hoping will end up in front of an editor's eyes RSN (which, in publishing, means any time in the next five years), which means it needs to be polished now.

I've just finished one ms (barring any editorial comments from an agent), and I've got three more I need to edit--three Really Big Novels--prior to putting them on sub. (They really need to go on sub. You will thank me later down the track.)

As RL demands much time, I don't have a lot of free coin to spend on all the writing projects I'd like to do. Someday this will change, but not next month.

So, if I choose to NaNo, It'll mean a delay in editing. If I opt in, I'll do the second half of last year's project, Currently Unsupervised.

So, your opinion on NaNo: yea or nay?

___________________________
Her Grace has realised that the writer's garret is not symbolic of the lonely isolation of a writer's life, but a magical escape-to place so writer can get some work done!

Monday, 13 October 2014

No Skeletons in Her Closet

Have you read my short story "The Skeleton in Her Closet"?
la calavera catrina by dantetyler,
a lovely, talented artist.
Go buy a print.

If not, go get it RIGHT NOW, as it's free: Penumbra Magazine, April 2013

All downloaded? Good. Read my story. I'll wait until you get back.

...

Okay, did you enjoy that?

Aside from having you read a fun little story, I've got another little story of my own.

Today, something very much like "The Skeleton in Her Closet" happened to me.

Last week a friend of someone I know died (peacefully in her sleep of old age). Her husband gave all her clothes to the someone I know. As the clothes didn't fit her, someone I know passed them on to me, as I was of a similar size.

A dead woman's clothes?

COOL!

Their Ladyships and I had so much fun sorting through and sizing them up. There were bags and bags of some rather nice items. Nothing quite as exciting as the closet Janet inherited, but there were some lovely things I shall enjoy.

There were so many my blouse wardrobe has doubled, and that's me keeping only half of what I was given.

The only disappointment? No skeleton.

_______________
Her Grace is sporting a lovely pair of slouch-about-the-house cotton trousers in a gentle pink. So comfy!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Cover Reveal - For Richer For Poorer - out 22 December 2014

My next novella, FOR RICHER FOR POORER will be released on 22 December, 2014, just in time for Christmas!  It will be available through The Wild Rose Press, Inc. store and all external distributors worldwide. You know you want a copy!


The Deveraux line is famous...for a family curse. The rich must marry the poor or lose their prosperity. Peter Baring is the last of the Deveraux and sinking slowly into poverty. But will marriage to his icy business partner save him?

Beatrice Nottham dreams of leaving Earth for a fresh start. But only married couples are allowed to move off-world. Marrying a man she’s unsure she loves will solve that problem...but at what cost?

When Beatrice visits England to research her branch of the Deveraux family tree, she meets Peter and sparks fly. Both question everything they ever believed would fulfill their dreams. If they dare to be together, will the Curse follow them beyond the stars? The answer to breaking its power could lie in the heart of a crumbling tapestry...if they have the courage to try.

I love this book. It's got magical curses, and sci-fi stuff and genealogy and a really good pasty for dinner.

In the book our hero Peter Baring asks, "Other than a rose, what is your favourite flower?"  Feel free to answer in the comments.

____________________________
Her Grace is fond of any flower she can eat. Have you ever eaten a flower before?

Friday, 3 October 2014

My Contemporary Humour Novel--The Cat Came Back

I outlined but never got more than a chapter or two into this novel. I really like TCCB. I think it has a clever plot and some really good slapstick, but I didn't  l o v e  it enough to complete it. My heart was more into Fantasy and Romance, than contempo comedy. Still, it was a bit of fun.

Desperate for money, college student Sally takes on a cat-sitting job, but not for any old cat. Fluffy was the completely spoiled pet of dying socialite Amanda Harris. Amanda loved Fluffy so much that she left her entire fortune to the cat, much to the chagrin of her grasping relatives.

Can she do that? According to her attorney, absolutely. Also, once Amanda passes on, Sally is guaranteed a job for as long as Fluffy lives--may Fluffy have a very long line, Sally hopes.

Sally's day is shattered when, two days after Amanda's funeral, Fluffy is found dead. In panic she rushes the dead tabby straight to the vet Thomas. Sally's hopes are crushed. But Thomas has a plan: get another cat.  Fluffy was not anything special breed-wise.  Like Sally, Thomas also had a financial interest in Fluffy's long life.

Thus, Fluffy was replaced by Fluffy II. 

Two days later, bailiffs show up to throw Sally out of the house. After all, she can't live there if the cat is dead. "But Fluffy's not dead," she tells the bailiffs, and produces her "proof" in the form of one irate cat. The bailiffs leave, bemused.

It's only then Sally suspects the relatives had killed the original Fluffy. She calls Amanda's attorney with her suspicions. Amanda's attorney, likewise, has a financial interest in a live Fluffy. The attorney doesn't know that this Fluffy is a replacement. He has Thomas the vet ascertain that this is indeed Fluffy, and is satisfied.

A week later, Fluffy II is found dead. Another panicked call to Thomas, who produces Fluffy III. 

Sally grows concerned. Fluffy II was definitely poisoned. She worries that eventually the relatives, eager to get their hands on Fluffy's money, will manage to successfully prove Fluffy's death.

Sally can't exactly go to the police, for that will reveal her complicity in replacing a dead cat. Nevertheless, she ups the security at the house, and does her best to keep Fluffy inside.

For the next few months several more attempts are made on Fluffy's life, some failing, some successful. 

One day, Fluffy goes missing. A window Sally always kept locked is discovered open. Calling upon Thomas once more, she heads out into the neighborhood in hopes of finding Fluffy alive.

Alas, it's too late, in all senses. Sally and Thomas find a dead Fluffy, the victim of a car. The driver had stopped and called the police... because the driver was one of Amanda's relatives. The police are bemused as to why someone called them about a dead cat, until the will is produced.  

Sally is given twenty-four hours to vacate the premises. 

She refuses to back down without a fight. Convinced this is a case of murder she reviews the security footage to discover the relatives entering the house, disarming the alarm and stealing the cat. (They had a key and the alarm code.) To throw Sally off the track, they left a window open. However, they hadn't known about the security cameras, and thus were caught.

Sally and the attorney take the footage to the police, and the relatives are busted. Because Fluffy VIII died under suspicious causes, Amanda's will decreed that all her wealth go to the Thomas the vet's cat shelter. After all, that's where Amanda got the first Fluffy, who had been her most loving companion for the rest of Amanda's life (unlike the rellies).

This clause surprises everyone, including Thomas. As for Sally, Amanda left her enough money to finish school.

Since I may never write this book, I thought I'd share the outline with you so you can enjoy it.

______________________________
Her Grace has novels she may never write.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Lovely Review of AS GOOD AS GOLD

Orchid from Long and Short Reviews gave a lovely four-and-a-half star review to AS GOOD AS GOLD.

So glad she enjoyed it. This is what she said:
"I enjoyed the book, well written and with well rounded characters.... I enjoyed spending an hour with this story. It caught my interest and held me right to the end. Good book." (read entire review)
Have you had a chance to read AS GOOD AS GOLD yet?

________________________
Her Grace loves hearing when readers have enjoyed her books.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Randomosity whilst sick with a cold

I apologise for my recent silence. I have been entertaining the Cold From Hell for nearly Two.
Fricking. Weeks.

The CFH slows me down. What would normally take my brain five minutes to accomplish, now take me a good half-hour or more. The Nagging Cough isn't helping my mood much either.

I should be working on a line edit. But when one is too sick to even read, not much gets done.

Meanwhile, enjoy the following:

After he wrote The Hobbit and before he wrote Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkein wrote Leaf: by Niggle. Lovely little allegory.

Love cinnamon rolls?  I do.  Came across this recipe for Vegan Cinnamon Rolls from the Minimalist Baker. (I do wonder, is yeast suitable for vegans?) If you aren't a vegan (i'm not), and don't mind substituting cow milk and butter (I do), remember to scald (and cool) the milk, as unscalded milk will affect yeast growth.  Also, I recommend using dental floss for cutting your rolls. Slide the dental floss under the log, Cross the ends over the log, and pull like tightening a shoelace. So much neater than a knife.

Are you on Facebook? Then you'll be able to watch this mesmerising and NSFW bellydance video. (Note: if you are on FB, you may need to log in to see this. And you do want to see this if you enjoy:
*Bellydancing
*Stereotypical Shirtless Romance Heroes
*Gladiators
*Hummina!  (Didn't know a man could move like that.)

___________________
Her Grace is going to take two Panadol and go back to bed now.

Friday, 12 September 2014

What Novels are REALLY About

Think about a Really Good Book, perhaps your favourite novel, or something you read last month that captured your heart. You know the one. You're still thinking about it. You would read it again, if you could.

What is it you like so much about that book?

Chances are, it's a character. Sure, books fall into two categories--plot-based and character-based. I know people who detest character-based book "because the plot doesn't go anywhere". (Fair enough; I understand.) Consider this: in plot-based books, the plots are going somewhere for whom? The characters. They're the most important part.

Ultimately, books are all about the characters. It's to the characters we relate, we cheer for, we follow and we have our hopes, our dreams, our anxieties. We don't emotionally invest in plots. We invest in characters.

I've belonged to an Online Writing Workshop for the past, oh dozen years or so. I've had the opportunity to read hundreds of chapters of dozens of books. Those books that are memorable, even years later, are those that had strong, well-rounded characters.

In the workshop I came across chapters that had vast sweeping plots of beautiful complexity and very forgettable characters. When this happened, the whole book fell flat. The plot couldn't save it. It just couldn't keep my interest. I couldn't invest.

Characters are everything and need to be well-developed. Give me a book with a richly-developed character going places, and I'm yours.
________________________________
Her Grace acknowledges your mileage may vary. She dares you to tell her about a book you love where any of the characters aren't terribly memorable.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Me vs Sucky Reality

In the first corner, at a hundred and fifty pounds and seventy-five pence, we have Me (aka Mighty Heidi, aka Hey You).  Dressed in dreams and other grandiose ideas, she is destined for great things... if only she had the time (and a really lovely smooch from Richard Armitage).

In the other corner we have Sucky Reality, as heavy as a wet blanket, as dour as an old maid schoolmarm from 1887, and armed with a big, thick Reality Clue Stick.

Long-story-short, my blows lead with:
  • Having a novella out in the end of 2014.
  • Plans to go to grad school in 2015.
  • Win over one of the twenty Dream Agents I've been researching.
  • Convince the "You're publishable, Heidi" editors to move from from Tell to Show.
  • Pass Grade 6 Piano.
  • Get a good night's sleep.
Sucky Reality counters with:
  • Stomach flu.  An entire weekend gone down the loo.
  • Temporary full-time promotion. Talk about a time-suck. I have time for nothing that truly matters, like writing, and piano, and keeping the loinfruit clean and fed. This complex move came with a most excellent feint called "increased income", but don't be fooled, because the one-two punch includes...
  • Medical bills. Whilst Australian Medicare is vastly superior to anything the US currently has on offer, it doesn't cover all possible medical bills. Sometimes one has to fork out. Bye-bye extra income. Thanks to...
  • Injuries. Curse you, body, for getting too old to go for a jog. How will I keep up my cardiovascular fitness?  After all...
  • Diet and exercise is a Lie (just like the cake)!  Especially when plagued with PCOS.
  • Grad school entrance quals change. Forget the fact that I've budgeted my time to include Grad School for 2015. If I don't apply by Semester 2 of 2014, I don't get in at all. (Really, a musician can study astronomy. Really. They're quite closely related.) One cannot work full-time, study part-time and still have any time for writing. Sorry.
Lest you think Sucky Reality has completely knocked Me for ten, thanks to the double-blow of Full-time and Medical bills, a fall to the mat has put me in an excellent position to lash out with my (uninjured) leg and deliver a crushing blow to Sucky reality's knee.

And she's back in the game, with a Good Night's Sleep!  That move alone means that at this point, it could be anyone's game.

Who will win: Me, or Sucky Reality?

Stay tuned...


___________________________
Her Grace has learned many valuable things over the course of the past few months:
1. She does not want to work full-time. Unless it's to be a full-time author. That would be okay.
2. She definitely wants to be an author and dedicate her life to that pursuit.
3. Grad school is really hard when one doesn't have enough study time.
4. Playing the piano is like riding a bike--not as bad for your joints as you would think.
5. How's your math:  T>$ when $>X when X=financial needs.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Because I love them.

I want y'all to read my stories. Not necessarily buy (though that would be nice) but definitely read.

Why?  Because I love them so much. My stories make me so excited. They thrill me.

I'd very much like you to feel that way too. That is one of the biggest reasons I publish my stories--to share and to make happy.

There's not much out there that's free at the moment, as anything older than about five years... the archives don't seem to exist any more. Alas. But you could read my story "Erasure" in Moonlight Tuber #1 and What to Do when your Husband is Zombified in the post-apocalyptic housewife's domestic companion, issue 2. If you haven't read these two quirky little pieces, go read them right now.

And for something more recent, of course there is always "As Good As Gold", and soon my next novella "For Richer, For Poorer" will be released by The Wild Rose Press, real soon now. I've got pretty cover art and everything.  Also coming out soon in the Aphrodite Terra anthology is my short story "Goldilocks Zone", out from Whippleshield Books later this year. It's science fictiony goodness.

______________________
Her Grace has lots of stories yet to be published that she hopes will continue to thrill others as well.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Right book + Right time = Book Loff

The Day Job has bumped my hours to full-time and this means I've got pretty much NO free time AT ALL for anything, and I've had to steal time from the writing career and the volunteer work and everything else.
So yes. I apologise for my blogly silence.

I've been robbing Peter to pay Paul. (Now, the Peter in my life is a really tall Army Sergeant who takes no nonsense. He would get on my case for how I'm burning the candle on both ends.) I've figuratively maxed out the Time credit card and someday soon it's gonna come back to bite me. Okay, enough with the cliches. I'm so busy I can't even come up with my own metaphors.

And yet...

AND YET...

I am squeezing bits and pieces of moments in for reading. We're all readers. We all know how reading is both relaxing and invigorating at the same time. Because I'm so busy, I need this two-birds-one-stone escape from the ol' grind. (Okay, I'll quit with the cliches.)

It doesn't help that the beautiful Baldivis Library has just opened and I can't stay away. (Ooh! Books! Shiny!)

I got a noir novel based on a true story--"Bury Me Deep" by Megan Abbott.  Normally I don't read noir, but the cover was so evocative, I had to pick it up.  (Just goes to show you what a great cover design can do).

Overall, I enjoyed the book and you can read my review on Goodreads. I've put another of her books on hold and will pick it up presently at the library.

It got me thinking. (Good books do that.)  Why did I enjoy this book so much? What intrigued me? Why don't I read more noir?

When I reflected on that last question, I had a revelation, an epiphany, if you will.

Thus:
  1. I don't read much noir because the characters tend to dwell in deep, dark places, and they never leave. 
  2. I have the same issue with most Literary fiction. The characters occupy the nadir of human existence and they either fail to realise they need to change and grow, or they fail to leave that Black Doghouse, despite their misguided efforts. This is depressing, especially for a Meritocratic Idealist who reads for Escapism.
  3. Novels are all about the characters. Even the plot-based ones. (More on this later, possibly next week.)

 This has confirmed to me that I'm all about the HEA (Happily Ever After) or, in certain cases, making such an impact on the world it can't help but change. Eucatastrophe. (Doncha just love that word?)

EVERY character goes through darkness and despair. It's necessary for the tension of the book. If everything were light and bubbles, it would be one boring book.

My taste is that the characters don't remain there. I want them to get to the HEA or at least appear that they're gonna make it.  I want them to be proactive in their fate. They've gotta do something, even if that something doesn't turn out the way they expected.

I want my books with characters making stuff happen, not just having stuff happen to them, or worse, happening around them. And if they are successful, all the better. HEA, The End.

So why am I all gushy over this noir? 
  1. It takes place in 1931, at the beginning of the Great Depression, and the dead-dog-party end of the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition! Loose morals! Lost flappers!  This is sufficiently different from my current lives to satisfy my need for Escapism.
  2. Despite everyone's spiral into darkness, pretty much all the characters (barring a couple) have redeeming features and intriguing quirks. Roundness is good.
  3. Plotty goodness.  Okay, this was more character-driven than plot-driven, but there was plot, and there were characters trying to take control of their destinies to some degree.  I can accept that.
  4. The ending had a sad wistfulness at the end of it, with a lost love flavour to it. I am a sucker for lost love. 
So there you have it. I have learned that I can fall in love with a story that's outside my usual preferred genres, if it strikes the right chor-- hits the nail on th-- ticks all the box--.

Aw heck.  I like something if it's got the right stuff.

_______________________
Her Grace needs a clichectomy.